In the Spotlight
The federal agency created after 9/11 to keep America safe is spending more than half a billion dollars on security enhancements for nonprofits “at high risk of terrorist attack,” and recipients include dozens of Islamic centers, a leftist La Raza group and a country music museum, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch. An LGBTQ rights organization and the nation’s leading abortion rights advocacy group have also received generous security enhancement funds from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and so has an old west museum, a congregationalist seminary in American Samoa and an American Indian museum. The records obtained by Judicial Watch reveal that the program is a bit of a boondoggle with large sums of taxpayer dollars going to institutions unlikely to encounter a terrorist threat, including zoos, a New Hampshire ambulance service and a museum dedicated to a renowned blues musician.
The money is disbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the 20,000-employee conglomerate officially created by former President Jimmy Carter’s executive order in 1979. FEMA operates under DHS and lists helping people before, during and after disasters as its mission. In the last few years the agency has dedicated more than $500 million to a Nonprofit Security Grant Program that claims to “support target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of terrorist attack.” The goal, according to FEMA, is to integrate nonprofit preparedness activities with broader state and local preparedness efforts. The costly initiative is also supposed to promote coordination and collaboration in emergency preparedness activities among public and private community representatives and government at all levels, according to the government’s description of the program.
Earlier this year Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with DHS for material that could offer insight into the somewhat obscure Nonprofit Security Grant Program, specifically a list of recipients. Funding for the program has expanded dramatically in the last few years, from $90 million in 2020 to $180 million in 2021 and a whopping $250 million in 2022 and American taxpayers have the right to know where their money is going. Among the records provided to Judicial Watch is a lengthy list of fiscal year 2021 grant recipients, which includes mostly religious institutions, many of them Jewish. But there are also dozens of Muslim groups including Illinois-based Al-Furqaan Foundation whose mission is to “deliver a FREE copy of the English Translation of the Message of the Quran to every non-Muslim man, woman and child in America.” The nonprofit received almost $100,000 last year from Uncle Sam for physical security enhancements, the FEMA records show. The open borders group National Council of La Raza (NCLR), recently rebranded UnidosUS, got $135,800 and Planned Parenthood clinics in Maryland and North Carolina received $469,811.
Other interesting nuggets on the list include the Frontier Days Old West Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. Each received $150,000 last year to fend off terrorist attacks, the records show. A congregationalist seminary in American Samoa got $142,000 while the Detroit Zoological Society in Michigan got $106,600. Zoos in Salt Lake City, Utah and North Carolina also received six figures. A museum called the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, Virginia got $90,000 and the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi $75,984. The LGBTQ advocacy group Oklahomans for Equality got $12,695 and a private New Hampshire ambulance service called Penacook Rescue Squad received $22,000. The extensive list goes on and on with a multitude of questionable recipients that inevitably provoke questions surrounding the program’s operation and how money is distributed.
Virtually all the mosques and Islamic organizations throughout the country that received security grants last year got six figures from the government, the records show. They include nonprofits in Alaska, California, Georgia, Minnesota, Maryland, Washington State, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas as well as the District of Columbia. The list is considerable, but here is a small sample; California’s Ahlul-Beyt Mosque, Georgia’s Masjid Al-Furqan West Cobb Islamic Center, D.C.’s Idara-e-Jaferia, Inc., Ohio’s Islamic Center of Mason and the Islamic Center of Minnesota all received $150,000 in 2021, according to the FEMA files. Others receiving security grants of over $100,000 include the Downtown Islamic Center in Chicago, the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit, Al-Ihsan Islamic Center in Twin Cities, Islamic Society of Delaware, and Islamic Center of Springfield in Missouri.